Yet another eventful week at Londolozi has passed. The landscape is now beautifully green, the wallows and pans are full and there is an essence of new beginnings in the air. Following the recent flush of impala lambs, the past week has now seen the arrival of the first wildebeest calves and warthog piglets which will both soon become a regular sight across the reserve. The rainfall received thus far has been nearly four times the amount we had by the same time in 2018. This has spurred the emergence of millions of winged termites from the depths of their mounds which has given a fresh injection of energy and food into the system for several species.
The lion dynamics continue to entertain us with the Avoca males being seen together, patrolling further south than we have seen before as they continue to press deeper into the reserve and probe the long-standing dominance of the Birmingham males. This week also saw the long awaited return of a large herd of buffalo, some 600 strong, which wandered the central parts of the reserve for a couple of days and were unsuccessfully hassled by a portion of the Nstevu pride, who still remain fragmented. We also enjoyed an incredible morning following a pack of 18 wild dogs on the move and witnessed them catch no less than three impala lambs in the space of thirty minutes.
Needless to say, each day here is as exciting as the next!
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
This week we have had a few days with beautiful skies, although the last couple have been rainy and overcast. During the clear spell we had an opportunity to capture Africa’s largest land animal walking over an open crest. With a lower angle we were able to photograph him with wide blue skies in the back ground, creating a beautiful contrast of colour.
We had just left Varty deck to head out for afternoon game drive, cameras and binoculars in hand. We were walking towards the vehicles when a juvenile African Goshawk swooped down and landed on a low hanging branch, no more than five meters away. It was organised panic as my guests and I tried to get our cameras out without scaring it away. Fortunately for us it stayed perched long enough to capture the shot we wanted.
The two Avoca males paid a long overdue visit to the northern regions of the reserve. We continue to see them expanding their range and enjoyed an incredible evening following the pair into the darkness as they scent marked and vocalised along the northern bank of the Sand River, advertising their dominance. We continued to hear them roaring long into the night.
There’s something quite special about following male lions at night. A clear look of intent comes over their face as the sun sets and they get on the move. Here, one of the Avoca males drops his nose to the ground on the scent of another young lion that had moved through the same area the night before.
We had been following a pack of 18 wild dogs as they ran over crests and through thickets in search of any prey. Hyenas are never very far away when the wild dogs are around as they know they have the chance of stealing something from them. In this case they got lucky as a female wild dog was found alone when she caught this impala lamb, and a hyena was able to snatch it from her.
From the same morning as the previous image, which Guy and I both enjoyed together, a blood stained wild dog is seen with a significant portion of her upper lip missing. We can only speculate as to what the story is behind the wound but it was likely lost to the jaws of a hyena in a similar situation to the one above.
Young animals generally have a lot more confidence when their mother is close by, and rightfully so. It’s always wonderful spending time with these highly endangered creatures.
We had got the update that siblings Nkuwa and Finfoot female leopards had just been in an altercation, not far from where we were. Things had settled down by the time we arrived and the leopards were about 50 meters apart. As we were talking about what hadhappened, the full moon started to rise. Our stars aligned when the Nkuwa female walked up onto a termite mound covered in muddy water perfectly in line with the rising moon.
An impressive buffalo bull takes a break from feeding to give us an intimidating stare. A herd of about two hundred were spread out in this open area, enjoying the arrival of the lush green grasses.
A dazzle of zebra had been running over a crest playing with one another when one stopped and looked straight at us. Nature did the talking and it was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
The Plaque Rock female made the most of a dark and stormy night a couple of days ago. Using the conditions in her favour, she managed to bring down an impala ewe which, by the following evening, she had hoisted in this marula. She is now approaching three years of age and has appeared to have inherited the majority of her mother’s territory, at least for now.
The current dynamics of the Nstevu pride still remain quite unclear. A split does however seem imminent. Here, a sub-adult male of about two years of age makes his way through a dense thicket with a portion of the pride following in tow. This particular morning was quite an adventure as we tracked these lions for over two hours across the width of the reserve.
As we approached a waterhole, we flushed this juvenile Bateleur out from the long grass next to the road. Along with several other birds of prey spread out across the same open crest, it was gorging itself on winged termites as they emerged from their burrows after the recent rains.
We were on our way to see the pack of wild dogs which had been hunting on the open Marula crests in the northern parts of the property. Excitement levels were high and as if things couldn’t get any better, while we were en route, tracker Rich Mthabine spotted a female leopard draped over the branch of a Marula, a scene we simply couldn’t bypass. We made our way closer to take it in and watch the Nkuwa female groom herself.
Londolozi’s smallest carnivore takes his post on a fallen over branch. The rest of his group were spread out below, foraging about in the long grass. Although we see them fairly often, it’s seldom that they stay still for long enough to get a photo – especially perched so out in the open.
Two sub-adult giraffes spar playfully with each other. Loose hierarchies amongst the males in a particular area are often established through this behaviour rather than full-scale fighting.